Evidence from cases found at ex-deputy's home

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- A former Maricopa County sheriff's deputy who was arrested after a standoff with law enforcement only to die days later of an apparent suicide had evidence from criminal cases and a collection of IDs belonging to other people in his home, investigators said in court records.

Former Deputy Ramon Charley Armendariz, 40, was found dead Thursday in an apparent hanging at his home after he failed to get an electronic ankle monitor ordered by a judge as a condition of his release from jail. He had been arrested on suspicion of drug possession.

Investigators searching the home also found suspected illegal drugs and numerous driver's licenses, passports and other IDs. Boxes of sheriff's office documents, including criminal citations that were never prosecuted because copies hadn't been given to the courts, also were found. Some citations in the boxes had been completed but were torn up, according to search warrant records.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in an interview Friday that his office doesn't yet know whether Armendariz's alleged crimes were limited to the former deputy or whether he was working on behalf of criminals. The office is conducting an internal affairs investigation to determine whether other employees of the agency were involved.

More than a week ago, Armendariz called police to report a burglary in progress at his home in west Phoenix. Officers found Armendariz armed with a pepper ball gun and chasing a phantom burglar.

Investigators suspect Armendariz, who resigned from the sheriff's office after his arrest, was either under the influence of drugs or having a manic episode. Armendariz claimed to have taken a sleeping aid.

Police went to the home again Sunday after friends of Armendariz called 911 because they were concerned that he was threatening to harm himself. After a nearly nine-hour barricade situation, he surrendered peacefully to authorities early Monday and was taken to a psychiatric center.

"I don't know what triggered him over the last several days, first with the drugs and then with the way he was acting," Arpaio said.

Armendariz's burglary call led to the discovery of the drugs and evidence from criminal cases in which the former deputy was involved as an officer.

Plastic evidence bags were found inside Armendariz's home that were both sealed and unsealed. Some bags contained evidence, while others had been torn open and were empty. Some evidence bags dated back to 2007, according to search warrant records.

Investigators said in court records that driver's licenses, ID cards, passports, credit cards, airport security clearance cards and wallets also were found in the home.

Some evidence found in the home had departmental report numbers, Armendariz's name and serial number. Investigators also found an illegal sawed-off shotgun in a locked filing cabinet for which Armendariz was the only key holder, according to search warrant records.

Additional property bags were found to have contained suspected drugs, including methamphetamine and marijuana.

Armendariz, a former member of Arpaio's immigrant smuggling squad, was mentioned last year in a federal judge's ruling on racial profiling during the sheriff's immigration patrols.

In May 2013, U.S. District Judge Murray Snow concluded that the sheriff's office had systematically racially profiled Latinos in its immigration and regular traffic patrols.

Snow concluded Armendariz considered race as a factor in making law enforcement decisions during large and small patrols. Arpaio has vigorously denied his agency racially profiles people and has appealed Snow's ruling.

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